LEWISTON — The public is invited to an evening of “Pura Vida” from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, July 30, in Room 170 at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College, 51 Westminster St. The event will feature photos and stories of the research travel undertaken in Costa Rica by students and faculty who went on this year’s USM LAC Leadership Study Abroad trip. 

Pura Vida, literally “pure life,” refers to a way of life that emphasizes a full life, filled with community and perseverance, that celebrates enjoying life slowly and good fortune. 

This summer’s Leadership Study Abroad Program at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College provided students and faculty the opportunity to visit Costa Rica to study best leadership practices surrounding global sustainability efforts. 

After doing extensive research on economic and environmental sustainability in the first part of their course here, one graduate student and nine undergraduate students spent 14 days in Costa Rica learning more about ecotourism, political and cultural perspectives, colonization, ancient beliefs about power and specific sustainability practices. 

They traveled with their instructor, Dr. Liz Turesky, an assistant professor in leadership and organizational studies, and another faculty member at USM LAC, Professor Blake Whitaker, natural and applied sciences. 

The group visited Earth University, an innovative learning community that draws students from all over the world to learn sustainable agricultural practices, and spent time in a variety of natural and urban environments (including coffee bean plantations, rain forests, a spice farm and the capital, San Jose). 

Students witnessed firsthand the struggles of indigenous peoples to protect their culture, in part through self-sustaining practices, and they were able to interview environmental, business and research leaders about their work. 

They also learned about reforesting efforts, met with a Shaman to understand better the relationship between spirituality and the natural environment and were able to relate what they were studying to the larger leadership issues of risk-taking and “finding your passion.” 

This year’s trip is the latest in a number of USM LAC Study Abroad trips that have taken students to such places as China, Singapore, Italy and countries in Africa. 

To learn more about Leadership Study Abroad as well as undergraduate or graduate programs in leadership studies at USM LAC, visit www.usm.maine.edu/leadership or call 753-6500.

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